For the first time ever, Archey's Frogs have been successfully bred in captivity. Aukland Zoo is the only facility in the world to keep this critically endangered New Zealand species.
Laid in October, the eggs hatched in early December. Twice before, other facilities had attempted to breed Archey's Frogs from wild-caught individuals, but the young did not survive to adulthood. Aukland Zoo now has seven healthy young frogs, bred from their own long-term captive population.
Watch Archey's Frogs wiggle their way through different developmental stages:
What makes Archey's Frogs unique? Read more after the fold.
Sometimes describes as a living fossil, Archey's Frogs as a species are over 50 million years old. Like three other species endemic to New Zealand, they do not undergo the typical tadpole-to-frog metamorphosis. Instead, they develop limbs inside the egg and hatch out as almost fully-developed frogs with tails and yolk sacs.
According to the IUCN, about one third of the world's amphibian species are threatened with extinction. Found only in New Zealand, critically endangered Archey's Frogs are threatened by habitat disturbance, intoduced predators and diseases, and by climate change. Captive breeding of Archey's Frogs is vitally important for conservation. Says Professor Jonathan Baillie of the Zoological Society of London, "Breeding one of the most primitive and threatened species on the planet is an amazing achievement and a major breakthrough for conservation".
Visitors to Auckland Zoo will soon be able to see adult Archey's Frogs in the Zoo's Night Forest habitat.